How did he make his billions? The former squash coach opened his first store in 1982. Last year, he floated the firm - by then a nationwide chain of 375 stores - pocketing £929m in one day. Shares plunged to their lowest this summer, after profits fell 50%. Ashley took control of Newcastle United last year too, but fans' rantings have forced him to look for a buyer. He would be even better off if it wasn't for a disastrous punt on the share price of HBOS. Cost: several hundred million pounds.
The secret of his success? Ashley's straight talking helped in building his business. But it hasn't gone down so well within a public company. After issuing a series of profit warnings, he called the City 'cry babies' and a Panmure Gordon analyst a 'moron'. And he won't be lifting any cups for corporate governance.